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A multicast function type for C++
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Multicast delegate for C++

C# has the nice concept of a multicast delegate which is the generalisation of a function pointer for multiple targets.

In other words, it’s kind of like an observer with nice syntax. (And I’m intentionally leaving out the details here.)


The usage is pretty straight-forward and echoes C#’s as much as possible.

void f(int n) { cout << "f: " << n << "\n"; }

util::multifunction<void(int)> event;

auto cookie = event += f;
event += [](int n) { cout << "[]: " << n << "\n"; };

// Output:
// f: 42
// []: 42

event -= cookie;

// Output:
// []: 23

A multi-function behaves essentially like a function – it’s callable, and defines the appropriate typedefs such as result_type. It also supports adding and removing listeners, via the functions operator+= and operator-=.

Notice that in C#, you’d use the listener delegate itself as an argument to -=. Unfortunately, that’s not possible in C++ because function-like objects are not generally identifiable, so std::function doesn’t define equality comparison. We wouldn’t know which object to remove.

Although this could be worked around for many (but not all) cases, multi-functions employ a slightly different approach:

Adding a listener to a multi-function returns a “cookie” of an opaque type identifying the listener that has been added (hat-tip to Abyx for coming up with the idea).

Removing a cookie more than once does nothing. Adding a function more than once, on the other hand, causes the function to be invoked several times. (Does this make sense?)

util::multifunction supports all function-like objects that are supported by std::function. It defines all the same member types and member functions, with the exception of assign and operator bool which don’t make sense in util::multifunction.

Calling a util::multifunction with a non-void return type returns the value of the last call only. The order in which the listeners are called is undefined, though, so the result might not always be usable.

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